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Conn. hospital members to meet with lawmakers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut hospitals are organizing a day at the Capitol to lobby against proposed cuts in state aid.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's two-year, $44 billion budget plan cuts state aid to hospitals by $208 million in the first year and $342 million in the second year.

The Malloy administration says that as Medicaid expands and health insurance exchanges are put in place, the number of uninsured will decrease in a few years. As a result, uncompensated care by hospitals will shrink.

The administration says the state is still spending $1.6 billion despite the cuts.

Hospitals say the budget cuts would lead to reductions in jobs, programs and services and shift health care costs to businesses, leading to higher premiums for families.

 

Western Connecticut Health Network President and CEO Dr. John Murphy says the Governor's proposal calls for unprecedented cuts to patient care reimbursements that, over the next two years, total more than $550 million to hospitals statewide and $30 million to Western Connecticut Health Network.  He says these cuts could devastate the hospitals and agencies that provide health and human services in Connecticut.  Every patient, physician, hospital employee and community in the state will feel the impact.

 

Murphy says the Governor indicates that hospitals can easily absorb the cuts because of additional revenue we will receive from the Affordable Health Care Act through newly insured patients, but the fact is the care we provide for patients on government-sponsored plans, such as Medicare and Medicaid, will likely receive the lowest reimbursements, and will not cover the cost of the services we provide.

 

The $30 million reduction in reimbursements - added to the millions of dollars in new taxes and the $4.8 million in cuts faced in December means Western Connecticut Health Network will be forced to scale back on programs and services, including those for low-income families and mental health services.  Murphy says among these would be several community clinic programs, many of the patients who need care most are those who lose care first.

 

Murphy says if Western Connecticut Health Network is forced to cut programs and services, it cannot sustain current levels of employment.

 

In 2012, Western Connecticut Health Network subsidized this care by more than $25 million.

 

Murphy says in order to bolster earnings, they sold inpatient dialysis service and retail pharmacy, and captured nearly 60% of our earnings from investment performance.  Western Connecticut Health Network missed their budget last year by $7 million and did not achieve the 3% operating margin typically needed to receive the best credit rating.

 

Murphy says the Hospital can't count on investments to grow at the same rate each year.  He notes that the Hospital doesn't have any more services to sell.

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